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Why Pumpouts Break
Today's pumpouts are designed to be efficient and trouble free.
While there are sometimes mechanical problems with a pumpout system, often the
troubles can be traced to boaters who are trying to 'do the right thing,' but
who are not aware of proper operating procedures.
There are three areas in which boaters can help keep pumpout systems in good working order:
- Clogs – This is the most common problem found in pumpouts.
Remember, never flush anything that has not been eaten first. Surprisingly even very small
items like toothpicks, which can pass through an marine sanitation device, are likely to get stuck
and cause a pumpout to clog. Larger items like nuts, bolts, hairpins, rocks, toys, tools, oil
absorbents, engine parts and even disposable diapers have been taken from clogged pumpouts.
In addition, failure to adequately rinse the pumpout lines after use allows solid materials to
build up and dry out. These cause blockages in the system and pumpouts that won't be available when
you need them.
- Damaged or lost accessories.
Some damage to hoses, nozzles and adapters comes from environmental influences and normal usage.
However, careful use can help slow damage (caused by dragging hoses across rough surfaces, crushing
hoses between vessels and piers, and dropping nozzles on hard surfaces) and increase the life of
equipment. Extra attention when handling nozzles and adaptors will help prevent losses due to accidental
- Damage to internal valves.
Diaphragm-type pumps are commonly used in pumpouts because they can pump corrosive substances, are
self-priming and develop sufficient vacuum to transfer waste over distances. These pumps are particularly
subject to damage from punctures or blockage when sharp objects, like toothpicks or hard objects, like nuts
and bolts are pumped through the system. They are also subject to accelerated deterioration from fossil
Bilge water should never be pumped through a sewage disposal pumpout.